A New Monster of a Musical has Multiple Sources of Music.

King Kong is koming . . . to Broadway.

If you haven’t heard, a musical version of King Kong is set to debut Down Under on June 15th.  And, well, since one of the most famous scenes in the movie of Kong features that hunk of an ape hanging off the Empire State Building, it wouldn’t take a Scientist on Skull Island to figure out that the creators and producers have the Big Apple in their sights.

Set to follow in Spiderman‘s web-prints, Kong is going to a be quite a spectacle, featuring a massive ape, a mega large cast . . . and more than five composers . . .  and songs from the period!

Which one of these things isn’t like the others?

Musicals typically have one composer . . . or maybe, as in the case of Grand Hotel and Victor Victoria. . . the likes of a Yeston/Kopit or a Wildhorn are called in to put a cherry or two on the top of the score to finish it off.

But multiple composers from the get-go? 

They’re as rare as a giant ape that swipes airplanes out of the sky and has a thing for blondes.  (The recent Bring it On was an exception when duties were split between Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tom Kitt)

Conventional wisdom has always been that one musical voice is needed to guarantee that a piece feels like it’s musical dots are connected; an idea that makes sense on paper, and has also made sense in practice.

But that doesn’t mean the other way can’t work too.

After all, musicals have many a character singing, and dancing and sometimes even speaking!  And those characters have different voices, so why can’t you have one song by Massive Attack, another by Sarah McLachlan and another by The Avalanches (if you haven’t guessed – those are just three of the King Kong composers – click here to read the article about all of them and hear some samples. )

King Kong  is going to bust through a lot of boundaries . . . with their set and their special effects . . . but the one I’m most interested in is what they are doing with the score.

Because having a gaggle of writers could be the most brilliant way to represent King Kong’s unique worlds and characters. 

Or it may just be bananas. 


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  • Stephen Buckle says:

    Since it is presumed King Kong will not be a juke-box show, these are Grand Rights. The question of how the royalties (share of GBOR = gross box office receipts) are split between composers interests me most of all. My own show in-the-making draws on the works of multiple composers, lyricists and a librettist; all still in copyright. Perhaps this is a new trend: for sure my decision was based on being able to cherry pick the best ‘tracks’ for the job and not being tied down to the limitations of one writer. Anyway, the original source material is too short for a stage musical so extra material is essential. Almost without exception all the most successful creative works are collaborations and those teams are getting bigger and more complex.

  • Fred Landau says:

    There are some examples where it’ succeeded. Motown has lots of different songwriters, plus a few new songs written for the plot. Rock of Ages also has a lot of different songwriters. Given that King Kong seems to be using a lot of classic songs but is open to using specifically written songs as well, that might make it easier than for most jukebox musicals. And of course, King Kong has Craig Lucas, which IMHO is reason to think it can really work!

  • Brady says:

    WORKING is my favorite example of a musical with multiple composers.

  • Ryan says:

    I saw the show in Melbourne and it looked amazing, but the book and music honestly made it one of, if not the worst shows I’ve ever seen. I’ve never been in an audience where there is such a strong apprehension to not clap at the end of every single song.

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